Children’s Book Promotes Two Hours Of Outdoor Play To Prevent Myopia

Targeted at young children, the illustrated book tells the story of a panda named Amanda, who plays outdoors for two hours every day to protect her eyesight.

AsianScientist (Aug. 16, 2019) – Widely referred to as the myopia capital of the world, Singapore has one of the highest levels of myopia worldwide—20 percent of children are myopic by the age of seven, while 70 percent are myopic upon completing tertiary education.

Near-sightedness, or myopia, is not just a problem for Singapore. It is also a global concern, with 50 percent of the world’s population projected to be myopic by 2050.

“There is a pressing need to take steps towards improving the understanding of myopia, with an aim to reduce its prevalence and impact in Singapore,” said Professor Wong Tien Yin, medical director of the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC).

“As such, in addition to our focus on clinical service, SNEC has put in place partnerships with international and national organizations, with a strong focus on research, innovation, education and advocacy of myopia prevention to tackle the problem at its root.”

At the Myopia Centre today, SNEC launched a children’s illustrated book written by Dr. Marcus Ang and Dr. Audrey Chia, both opthalmologists at SNEC.

Titled Amanda the Panda: Outdoor play keeps myopia away, the picture book was published by Wildtype Books in collaboration with SNEC and the Myopia Centre to help young children and their parents learn about myopia prevention in a fun and engaging way.

The book was read by guest-of-honor Senior Minister of State Dr. Lam Pin Min to 20 children who attended the book launch. It describes how a panda called Amanda plays outdoors for two hours a day, a figure recommended by the World Health Organization for myopia reduction.

“As the mother of two young children, I often give my children mobile devices to play with instead of engaging them in outdoor activity,” said Dr. Juliana Chan, editor-in-chief of Asian Scientist Magazine and publisher of Wildtype Books.

“The mobile devices aren’t themselves the problem, but rather the extended blocks of ‘near work’ and lack of outdoor play. We published the book to raise awareness among parents like myself about the importance of playing outdoors.”

At the same session, SNEC signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Singapore Polytechnic to collaborate on optometry training. Under the MOU, optometry students and graduates from Singapore Polytechnic will undergo clinical attachments and internship programs at the Myopia Centre, where they will receive training from eye-care professionals.


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Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

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